Comparitech regularly reviews and tests antivirus for Windows and Mac computers. Consequently, we’ve run across a fair number of free real-time antivirus programs that we believe consumers can trust, no strings attached. Below, you’ll find the top antivirus programs we believe offer the best free protection for your Windows or Mac computers.
Best free antivirus programs for Windows and Mac
Windows users have the largest choice when it comes to free antivirus programs. Given Windows has the largest market share for both consumers and businesses, it should come as no surprise that free options abound.
The best free antivirus programs for Windows and Mac computers include:
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free (Windows and Mac): One of the largest and most trusted names in antivirus protection
- Comodo FREE Antivirus (Windows and Mac): Offers fast, cloud-based malware scanning
- Sophos Home Free (Windows and Mac): Expansive number of free features
- Kaspersky Free Antivirus (Windows): Provides a large suite of free privacy tools alongside malware protection
- Adaware Antivirus Free (Windows): Automatically scans downloads and other activity for malicious activity
- Avira Free Antivirus (Windows): Simple real-time antivirus protection without additional feature bloat
What to look for in a free antivirus program
It’s common for Windows users to rely on virus protection software, but Mac users are also turning to antivirus protection in an increasingly dangerous online world. Paid options abound, but free options exist for both Windows and Mac users.
A good free antivirus program does all of the following:
- Offers real-time virus protection, monitoring your network for malicious activity and blocking malware
- Automatically quarantine malware and other suspicious file downloads
- Provides these services at no cost to you, indefinitely, and not as a limited free trial
Additional features available through antivirus programs will vary. However, free real-time monitoring, quarantines, and malware removal are options you should be looking for from your free antivirus program.
SEE ALSO: We take a deeper dive into the best antivirus for Mac
1. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition – Windows and Mac
Pulling in its powerful tool into a lightweight free option, Bitdefender now offers a free antivirus tool for Windows and Mac users. The free tool is a feature-limited version of the company’s paid program.
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition offers all of the following features:
- Advanced threat detection
- Virus scanning and removal
- Anti-phishing website blocking
- Anti-fraud website blocking
The Mac version of this program is much more limited than the Windows option. Notably, there’s no real-time protection. You can only use the Mac version of the tool for on-demand scanning and malware removal.
Looking to extend your protection to other devices? Bitdefender also offers its free antivirus program for Android phones and tablets. The Android version also includes cloud scanning and uses minimal system resources to avoid draining your battery.
Users looking for more can upgrade to the full version of Bitdefender from within the application.
2. Comodo FREE Antivirus – Windows and Mac
Comodo is a large internet security company covering a wide range of security concerns, including antivirus. Their cloud-based antivirus software for Windows and Mac can be downloaded for free on your desktop or laptop computer.
With Comodo free, you’ll get a limited set of features, to include:
- Free, real-time monitoring
- Advanced, cloud-based threat detection
- Sandboxing threats
- Whitelisting safe sites
- Application control
- Spyware scanning
- Customizable firewall
The Mac version of the software offers a slightly more limited selection of features, but still maintains the core virus scanning and removal features.
Comodo’s free antivirus uses the company’s Host Intrusion Protection System (HIPS). With HIPS, your computer is protected against known and unknown viruses. Malware that isn’t on a known blacklist is sandboxed away from the main system. Those threats are then taken care of in the quarantined environment, unable to interact with or impact your system. The software also uses predictive technology to help determine when a threat may occur from a file or website.
Alongside free protection for your computer, you can also download a free Comodo antivirus solution for your Android phone. Comodo’s free Android app has more features than every other Android option we’ve mentioned. With the Android app, you get real-time protection, scanning, scheduling, SMS and call blocking, and more.
Sophos is not as well known in the market as Bitdefender, but it’s an extremely respected brand. The company’s high-powered software is available for both Windows and Mac computers. And uncommonly, it’s Mac version is not nearly as feature-limited as many other options that provide Mac antivirus protection.
With Sophos Free, you’ll get:
- Real-time antivirus protection
- Parental website filtering
- Web protection
- Remote device management
- Predictive artificial intelligence threat detection (Windows only)
The free tool also comes with a 30-day free trial for Sophos Home Premium and its expanded set of features. You’ll still have access to the above list of features once the free trial ends.
Kaspersky’s well-known antivirus software can be utilized for free on Windows computers. This software is far more limited than most of the other options on this list.
Kaspersky meets our criteria by providing:
- Real-time virus monitoring
- Free quarantines and malware blocking
- Free malware removal
If you’re looking for more, you can upgrade your Kaspersky Antivirus software for a host of additional features, including functionality with Mac computers and Android devices.
Still, if all you’re looking for is a lightweight, free antivirus solution for your computer, Kaspersky is a very good option. The company focuses its free tool solely on real-time monitoring and does not extend any bonuses to free customers. Nevertheless, the free tool utilizes the company’s quality antivirus engine at no cost to you.
5. Adaware Antivirus Free – Windows
Now onto the 12th version of its software, Adaware Antivirus provides a solid option for those who want quality antivirus on the cheap.
For free, you’ll get the following features through Adaware Antivirus:
- Real-time protection against malicious processes and infected files
- Automatic protection against malware infection, including spyware and ransomware
- Automatic downloads scanning to help protect against dangerous files
The software utilizes a powerful and intelligent engine to scan for and block malware, making it a great free antivirus option. Should you find yourself in need of more features, you can more than triple the number of features by purchasing one of Adaware’s paid versions.
6. Avira Free Antivirus – Windows
Available for Windows users, Avira Free Antivirus is a fairly straightforward free real-time AV tool. While there’s a fully-featured paid version, the free option is for those who just need real-time antivirus protection and who may not plan to use or even need other features.
Avira’s free tool provides:
- Real-time malware protection
- Web protection against infected sites
- Blocks phishing attempts
This tool is ad-supported. You can remove ads and extend the number of available features with its paid tool. However, for free, the ads may be worth the headache.
Should you choose to upgrade, however, you’ll also get scanning for downloads and torrents, USB drives, and email attachments.
Free iOS Antivirus App – Avira Mobile Security
As you likely noticed, none of the options we listed above provide iOS apps. Unfortunately, the market for iOS antivirus software is small, with free options extremely limited. Here’s one great option you may want to consider, however.
Avira Mobile Security
Security company Avira has a number of products available, including a free antivirus app for iOS users. The app provides a useful selection of features for iPhone users, including:
- Protection against phishing websites
- Email scanning to detect security breaches
- An anti-theft tool
- Memory and storage usage monitor
- Contacts backup
The Avira Mobile Security app also provides an activity report for security events. Thankfully, iOS security is already pretty high, so you’ll likely run into a minimal number of events.
- Best free antivirus programs for Windows and Mac
- What to look for in a free antivirus program
- 1. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition – Windows and Mac
- 2. Comodo FREE Antivirus – Windows and Mac
- 3. Sophos Home Free – Windows and Mac
- 4. Kaspersky Free Antivirus – Windows
- 5. Adaware Antivirus Free – Windows
- 6. Avira Free Antivirus – Windows
- Free iOS Antivirus App – Avira Mobile Security